John Karolefski

Editor-in-Chief, CPGmatters

John Karolefski is the publisher and editor-in-chief of, a twice-monthly ezine that focuses on building brands through retail. He is also the executive director of the Shopper Technology Institute (STI), the only trade organization for providers of technologies and solutions that engage shoppers and analyze their behavior. STI produces and hosts the annual LEAD Marketing Conference which focuses on Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics and Digital applications.

Karolefski, the former senior editor of Supermarket News, is the co-author of three books: “Consumer-Centric Category Management,” “All About Sampling and Demonstrations,” and “TARGET 2000: The Rising Ride of TechnoMarketing.”

  • Posted on: 08/03/2022

    Will H-E-B’s self-checkout pilot take off?

    All of these new and upcoming self-checkout innovations sound great and should work well for small orders. But for a large basket? Maybe, but only if someone other than the customer bags the groceries. Shoppers won't like bagging $200 worth of groceries, no matter how fast the products scan.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2022

    Should ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ dates be reimagined to reduce waste?

    These food expiration dates have always confused shoppers. But doing away with these advisories would cause a shopper backlash. Better to simplify the wording and roll out a widespread shopper education program.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Grocers and food brands take older consumers for granted

    Many elderly folks focus on proper weight and good nutrition. They are not big consumers of chips and carbonated soft drinks. But those are the products that grocers and food brands heavily advertise and promote. And I mean heavily promote! Also, trading partners are investing more in digital coupons as opposed to paper offers. But digital coupons do not reach many of the elderly because they aren’t online, don’t have a smart phone, or don’t want to be bothered.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    How important are founders to brand authenticity?

    A founder's story can elevate a brand's authenticity if it resonates with today's shoppers. It must be a positive story. And sad to say, it must pass the "woke" test given the today's sensitivities. In the end, however, it's all about the product.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2022

    Study says health labels get shrugs from shoppers

    Certifications and verifications on food labels aim to educate shoppers and help them make healthier choices. The problem is that most shoppers do not know what they mean. For example, do everyday folks really know the meaning of Non-GMO Project Verified, CF Certified, No BPA, Fair Trade USA, etc.? Sometimes there are too many health labels on a package. For example, Season sardines has the following on its small box: Certified GF Gluten Free, Wild Caught, Friend of the Sea Certified Sustainable, NON-GMO Project Product Certified, UP Pareve Kosher for Passover and Year Round, and No BPA in Can Lining. Sometimes less is more.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2022

    Will more Americans make e-grocery delivery a weekly habit?

    There are studies and then there are other studies. One recent one finds that online grocery purchases and BOPIS have plateaued, and that buying in a physical store will be the top option for food shoppers. I believe it. Folks want to squeeze the melons, select the cuts of meat, and browse the store for new products and bargains. The challenge for grocers is to make food shopping more convenient and enjoyable. Anyone expecting or predicting a digital boom in grocery shopping will be disappointed.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2022

    Are Walmart+ members ready to invite the retailer into their homes?

    I am shocked that anyone would allow a delivery person to enter their home to stock their pantry or fridge. Talk about an invasion of privacy! But apparently some folks sign on. I can see this scheme unraveling in a few ways. One: "My Ming dynasty vase is missing." Two: "Oh, I forgot to tell you about my rottweiler."
  • Posted on: 06/02/2022

    Are consumers stumped by percent-off promos?

    BOGO is most effective, although it needs to be spelled out since I am not sure if all shoppers know what BOGO means. Also, doing percent-off is a bridge too far.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2022

    Is now the perfect time for grocers to sell imperfect food?

    Selling ugly fruits and veggies in supermarkets is not something new. For years, some grocers in Europe have had success selling these imperfect produce items -- as have some US grocers who know their shoppers. Nowadays, inflation is prompting consumers to shop differently -- buying less popular name brands, buying private label goods, and so on. It makes sense that sales of ugly produce would attract some shoppers. Sales would increase as economic conditions decrease. It's a simple as that.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2022

    Will smart shopping carts transform the shopping experience at Albertsons?

    Will smart carts transform the shopping experience at Albertsons? Hmm. No. Smart carts have been around in labs for a while, so it will be instructive to see if shoppers use them. I suspect some folks will try out these carts, but most won't because they will be intimidated by the technology (think seniors) or they don't want to be bothered. I like the idea of smart carts though. But it will be years before widespread use happens.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Is inflation the true cause of recent supermarket closures?

    I don't think inflation is the cause. People still need to eat; they still need to buy food regardless of price. Besides inflation, other factors may play a part. For example, switching stores to one offering lower prices like Aldi; having groceries delivered to the home from other merchants than the local supermarket; having meal kits delivered to the home, thus reducing the need to buy some groceries at the store. For the local supermarket, it can be death from a thousand cuts.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2022

    Grocers fret over how to pass higher costs onto customers

    Grocery could always promote their private label lines, assuming they are first rate. This is an opportunity to lure and convince reluctant shoppers that store brands are of good quality and often at lower price.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2022

    Which personalization techniques work best?

    A number of shoppers do not want to be identified through personalization. They prefer to remain anonymous either because of privacy concerns or they just do not want to be bothered. This number is higher than most marketers and retailers think. They'll have to factor this into their programs.
  • Posted on: 05/05/2022

    Are Americans getting ready to hit the brakes on spending?

    In the grocery sector, inflation has forced shoppers to spend down by switching from higher-priced name brands to lower-priced store brands Shopper negative reaction to "shrinkflation" in name brand packages has also played a role. I expect this trend will continue the rest of the year because inflation will continue, hitting shoppers in their pocketbooks.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2022

    Will ‘shrinkflation’ grow into a big problem for CPG brands?

    I have not seen any shopper studies on this topic, so I can only speculate as a consumer. It ticks me off to see less product in packages. I can understand higher prices though.

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